Honoring Those Who Have Served

Every year, gloomy news dominates headlines. Looking back, 2013 had its fair share of tough coverage (from government shutdowns to terrorist bombings), but there was plenty to celebrate as well (16-year-old Taliban victim Malala Yousafza’s courageous comeback comes to mind, or the medical breakthrough cures of leukemia in several children).

Focusing on positivity and philanthropy (which this entire news section does in December), one of the best stories in our industry happened this past July. Nearly 400 adults and 40 children representing more than 100 lawncare and landscaping companies descended on the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery for a day of service. The annual Renewal & Remembrance event, put together by the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), helps our nation’s most hallowed ground with mulching, pruning, planting, aerating and protecting trees across its 624 acres. More than $2 million was contributed to the 17th anniversary of Renewable & Remembrance in 2013, but this year there was a special gift — a significant donation from Caterpillar and local dealer Alban Cat.

Caterpillar and Alban Cat have been platinum sponsors and provided machines to the event for many years, easing work that is done behind the scenes — like carrying lime and pallets of materials around the cemetery — before volunteers arrive. This year, Caterpillar presented Arlington National Cemetery with the gift of a 277C multi terrain loader, painted in the authentic Marine Corps Green.

“We wanted to provide a machine to Arlington as a salute to those that have sacrificed for our country through their service,” said Jason Becker, Caterpillar’s national association manager for its building construction products division. “One of the things we learned in the process was that the United States Army has responsibility for the cemetery and all burials that take place there. Due to the importance of that job, the cemetery staff focuses its efforts on those activities, while allowing others to work on the turf, flowers and other projects that arise there. In short, the cemetery staff and leadership do an amazing job of focussing on the main purpose of the cemetery, honoring those who have served.  We are humbled to be a very small part of that.”

The now permanent member of Arlington’s equipment fleet will solely function as support for the burial process. Donated with a bucket and auger, the 277C will be used in many applications within the cemetery.  The rubber tracked skid steer loader is ideal for the delicate cemetery grounds because of its very low psi footprint.

Arlington National Cemetery“It only exerts 3.7 psi on the ground as it sits or travels, which is far less than a tired machine or even a person walking across the turf,” Becker said. “This machine is a perfect fit at the cemetery because the activities done in the cemetery are often done in and around existing turf. With the care and attention that is paid to the turf at Arlington, the last thing you would want to have is a machine that causes damage as it is accomplishing its job.”

Prior to the donation, the skid steers used on the cemetery were all wheeled, exerting more pressure and damage on the ground. Now with the 277C, damage to the hundreds of acres of sprawling ground is not a concern.

The machine — affixed with decals for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Cost Guard — was donated to the cemetery by Caterpillar and Alban Cat’s team of volunteers. Supporting the military and the Renewal & Remembrance event is extremely important to the company.

“This event has a deep meaning for Caterpillar, as we have employed thousands of veterans through the years, and much of our company’s history and growth was built around supporting our fighting forces in World War I and World War II,” Becker said. “Some estimates indicate that we provided over 61,000 machines to support our troops in their efforts for WWI and WWII alone. This event allows us to lend some machines, and many hands, to the efforts at Arlington, which is the most hallowed ground that Caterpillar machines have the privilege of operating upon.”

Arlington National CemeteryAlong with expressing its support for the various branches of the military, the green 277C says the phrase “Honoring Those Who Serve.”

“At the end of the day, this machine will be working amongst the most brave an honorable patriots that this country and world have ever seen, and it is a true honor to have any involvement in caring for America’s Most Hallowed Ground” Becker said.

Kelly Pickerel is a contributing editor to Compact Equipment, based in Brecksville, Ohio.

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